Meet Your Local Government… on the Internet

Photo courtesy of
‘A packed ANC 4C meeting in DC tonight’
courtesy of ‘Wayan Vota’

Doing what I do here at We Love DC, I am constantly looking for a way to keep track of what the heck is going on in the city. Don remarked once how grateful he is that he’s the one who actually likes reading the DC Register, since it’s basically a never-ending source of article ideas. Well, he’s welcome to it, because I don’t see myself developing that particular habit anytime soon. But I have run across three handy Internet/database projects of the DC government that help me dig up context on all the various bits of info constantly hurled my way.  Being a total nerd, this stuff makes me giddy:

DC Guide, which I prefer to refer to by the name referenced in its URL: Citizen Atlas. This database gathers all the random little bits of information you’d need to know as a District resident- what Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) do you belong to? Who is your specific representative to that ANC? What’s your voting precinct? You can see on their sample report that it also shows you a map of the address in relation to certain points of interest, like Metro stations. Handy also if you’re looking to buy a house in the District. Other methods of search will show you things like maps of neighborhood clusters, maps of zip codes and which ANCs and voting precincts serve them, etc.

CapStat, which, okay, is not technically a database. It’s a local government accountability program that seeks to provide performance indicators to all of DC’s agencies that will identify areas of needed improvement. But part of the accountability is also providing that data to citizens, so the CapStat site gathers up lots of disparate databases and feeds and shows you where to find them. Compare neighborhood schools, figure out where the closest hospitals and police stations are, view HIV/AIDS statistics from the Department of Health… as agencies release reportable data, CapStat collects it. But the best thing I’ve found through CapStat is the Data Catalog and Feeds page. There is actually an RSS feed for 311 service requests, guys. Even better? A Google Maps mashup of the same data, so now you can know where your neighbors are asking for rat abatement services., where you will find a searchable database of municipal regulations (rules made by agencies, not part of the DC Code, which is enacted by City Council) as well as DC Register Notices and Mayoral Orders.  It’s not searchable by keyword (yet?) but it’s pretty easy to select agencies from the drop-down and get a well-organized list of regulatory areas, and then be able to pick through to find what you want. For example, the Office of Cable Television’s regulations. Register notices are similar- here are the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration’s recent DC Register Notices. is a pretty recently launched system, so the information doesn’t go back that far, but it seems like it’s something that will get more and more useful as time goes on.

These are a few of my bookmarks that help me keep track of what’s going on in the city. What else is out there that we should know about?

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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